Pupils 'forced to walk next to dual carriageway' as council axe school bus

Parents protested after North Lanarkshire Council said they will not be running buses for children living three miles from school.

Parents have staged a protest in North Lanarkshire after the council cut school buses for their children – forcing them to walk alongside a dual carriageway on their walk to school.

North Lanarkshire Council announced that from August only children who live more than three miles from Coatbridge and St Ambrose High School will be eligible for free transport, a drop down from the current two mile requirement.

Affected parents staged a protest against the decision on Thursday, walking over an hour from Dykehead Road to the schools – mapping out a walk that over 200 school pupils will have to make twice a day come the new term.

Frustrated parents have said the protest was to “highlight the dangers” that the children will face on the six mile trek, including a walk along a busy dual carriageway.

Parents have said that the six mile walk contains 'dangers'.STV News

One protesting parent, Graeme Cloughley, said: “We’ve got no public transport that’s suitable to get them to school and we’re talking about a six mile walk there and back every day.

“We just don’t think its suitable for kids to be doing that in this day and age.

“I’ve got a 13-year-old daughter who’s going to have to walk the route.

“We’re coming into spring so things are looking a little bit better, but you can imagine how it looks in winter.”

The transport changes will mean a journey which would usually take 15 to 20 minutes on a bus, will now be an hour and ten minutes.

North Lanarkshire Council suggested that parents can drive their children to school or carshare.

Fellow protestor Merrisa Cloughley said this “doesnt make sense”.

“The cars are all tailed along the road”, she told STV News.

“If you were add another 150 cars into, for all the children that were meant to be on the bus, not to mention the environmental issues, and local residents, it doesn’t make sense.”

North Lanarkshire Council issued an email to the parents of those impacted, reporting that the recent changes will bring the council “in line with almost all other local authorities in Scotland”.

The council went on to say that they previously supplied school travel from “further levels that what is required by law”.

A spokesperson said: “Until this year, North Lanarkshire Council has provided free school bus travel at distance levels which are higher than almost all other councils in Scotland and more than what is required by law.

“School transport costs have increased by 52% since 2021/22 with the current annual cost to transport a single pupil to and from school being £1,305, which is an 8.5% rise on last year’s figure and with total school transport costing the council around £120,000 daily.

“The changes we are introducing were agreed as part of the budget-setting process last year and will move the council to a position adopted by most other local authorities in Scotland, make school travel more cost effective and reliable while also promoting the benefits of active lifestyles within communities.

“A comprehensive programme of safe walking route assessments has been carried out by independent infrastructure specialists over the last six months and information has been provided to families and there is the availability to request a review of individual circumstances.”

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